The local National Health Service (NHS) administration headquarters in Durham, England (northeastern section of the country) is located in the John Snow House, a building honoring the achievements of Dr. Snow.  Included in the Durham NHS administrative district are places where John Snow gained his early medical experience and education (see links in the text of the plaque which follows).

A current photo of the John Snow House is shown below.

John Snow House, Durham University Science Park, Durham City, DH1 3YG

A plastic-encased plaque in the building briefly describes the history and achievements of Dr. Snow.

Plaque, John Snow House, Durham University Science Park, Durham City, DH1 3YG

The plaque reads:

John Snow (1813-1858)

John Snow was an eminent Victorian physician who had very strong links to the area covered by the Northern and Yorkshire Regional Office of the NHS Executive. 

Born in York, the eldest of nine children, he chose Newcastle as his early training ground.

Despite humble beginnings, he had a prestigious medical career and made important contributes to two completely unrelated areas of medicine. 

John Snow played a major part in the promotion of early anaesthesia and became the most influential of Britain's, if not the world's, earliest anaesthetists.  He was also renowned for work over the discovery of the mode of spread of cholera.

As a child, he lived in the merchant quarter of York.  At 14 he decided on a medical career, which meant his parents would have had to find £100, a dauntingly large sum, for his apprenticeship.  It was decided that he would go to Newcastle, where an affluent uncle had connections. 

For six years he was apprenticed to an established practitioner in Newcastle.  During this time he became familiar with the work of a family doctor.  It was also in Newcastle that he had his first experience with cholera, while attending an outbreak at a mine.

There was a progressive medical environment in Newcastle and in 1832 an embryonic medical school opened.  John Snow is recorded as being a regular attender at lectures.

At the end of his apprenticeship, he spent a year as an assistant to a practitioner outside Newcastle before returning to Yorkshire.

In 1836 he set off for London to pursue a more formal medical education and spent a year at the Hunterian School of Medicine, near London's teaching hospitals.

On completion of this training, he set up a practice in the center of Soho and remained in London for the rest of his life.

He became President of the Westminster Medical Society (forerunner of the Royal Society of Medicines) and contributed many articles to journals.

Anaesthesia was first used in Britain in 1846.  John Snow's interest in physiology and the science of medicine naturally attracted him to the subject and he rapidly became a pioneer of its use.  Within a short time he had established many of the principles on which anaesthesia is still based.

Although he continued to work as a family doctor, his time became increasingly occupied with new interest and he gave anaesthesia for operations performed by many of London's leading surgeons.  He was the first person to introduce anaesthesia in childbirth and was called upon to minister to Queen Victoria.  He also ran a substantial private anaesthetic practice for dentistry. 

He never forgot his poorest patients.  Often, within a short time of giving anaesthesia to royalty and members of the government, he could be found working in the most deprived parts of the capital. 

Yet it was his interest in cholera and his painstaking investigation of an outbreak that earned him a place in medicine's hall of fame.

During an outbreak in London in 1854, he tracked the geographical location of each case and deduced that deaths had occurred among people living near the Broad Street pump.  At the investigation the pump handle was removed and the epidemic, which was already declining, came to an end.  This signified a new understanding of the nature of the disease. 

John Snow suffered chronic ill health and died in 1858 at the age of 45. 

Source: Wood, David. Anesthesiologist (retired), Durham, United Kingdon, Nov. 12, 2004.

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